Gao Xingjian

23 November 2006

The Asia Australia Arts Centre is delighted to hold a one-day exhibition on Thursday 23rd November 2006, of seven Chinese ink paintings by 2000 Nobel Laureate Gao Xingjian – including a 300 cm long painting Goût de l’encre – to celebrate the new HarperCollins publication of his book The Case for Literature.

The essays in Gao Xingjian’s The Case for Literature provide insights into the enormous obstacles he has had to overcome as a writer who expresses himself mainly in the Chinese language. His wide knowledge of Chinese and Western literature, his powerful intellect, and his uncompromising attitude towards the pressures of political or religious ideologies, the collective or market forces informs these essays, and argue for literature that is “without isms”, that is “cold literature” or literature that is driven only by literary concerns and is uncontaminated by the need to promote political or any other causes. His observations and insights derive from one whose instinct to self-expression through writing was severely repressed for over twenty years of his adult life. These essays provide a key to understanding his great novels Soul Mountain and One Man’s Bible as autobiographical works that he was driven to write.

Best known internationally as a novelist and playwright, Gao Xingjian’s paintings grace the covers of the HarperCollins editions of his books Soul Mountain (2000), One Man’s Bible (2002), Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather (2004), and The Case for Literature (2006).

Gao Xingjian’s first solo exhibitions were held in 1985, in Beijing, Berlin and Vienna. He has since held more than forty solo exhibitions in France, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, USA, Spain and Belgium. In 2005 a major retrospective exhibition of sixty works was held at the Singapore Art Museum, and in 2007 he will hold a solo exhibition at Notre Dame University in Chicago.


Born 1940 in Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province, China, Gao Xingjian graduated with a major in French literature in 1962. He enjoyed celebrity status in China when his plays Alarm Signal (1982) Bus Stop (1983) were staged in Beijing. This was soon after the end of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) when writers were singled out for harassment and criticism. In 1983 Bus Stop was banned, and he was barred from publishing until the Eradicate Spiritual Pollution petered out at the end of the year. But he continued to be harassed for his writings, and in 1987 he relocated to Paris, where he was able to fully explore his creative potential as a writer and artist. He has stamped his credentials internationally as playwright, novelist, artist and public intellectual.